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Manhattan blowout: Texas romps past Kansas State 69-31

It's over at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan. On a day when lots seemed to be working against Texas heading into this game, the Longhorns dominated in all three phases of the game, punching the Wildcats 69-1.

It was the best day on the scoreboard this season for Texas, which blew out UTEP 59-3 in the season opener but has averaged 37.8 on the year. It was the best day of the season overall, in terms of overall performance. This was as complete a performance as the score indicated it was. There were big runs, big plays, sacks, interceptions, new faces making plays and few mistakes made.

The running game was explosive, the reconfigured offensive line suffered another big loss but still powered the offense to a 600-yard day and scores on 11 of its 14 drives, and it all couldn't have come at a better time. 

Why Texas (6-3, 5-3) won

Was today's performance more a reflection of Texas or Kansas State? Usually, the truth lies somewhere in between. The running game was clicking from the very start and it just kept cruising, so much so that Sam Ehlinger, for the first time this season, didn't have to be The Guy. The defense that has been playing steady over the past month shined again

Why Kansas State (4-6, 4-5) lost

A long day for the Wildcats, who looked overwhelmed from start to finish on their senior day. It was the last game of the season for them. Will Howard fared better as a passer than he has been, but also threw a couple of picks. Deuce Vaughn (170 yards of total offense, 2 TDs) was impressive, showing lots of burst and lots of wiggle, but Kansas State couldn't generate enough offense. On a day when the only way to win was by shootout, the offense sputtered in starts and stops.

What this win means

That loss to Iowa State? That was so November.

Tom Herman's future? Looks fine.

Urban Meyer? Go ahead and stay at Fox.

Well, all of that for one day, anyway.

Really, the only path toward not leaving this season with a sour taste is to finish 8-3 and win the bowl game. The Horns are now 6-3, probably one week away from 7-3, and the strength of today's win at least stops the bleeding, at least for a week. This Monday's press conference was a trying one for Tom Herman, who was peppered with job questions. We'll see how it goes in a couple of days.

Scoring

1st quarter: Texas 17, Kansas State 7

Texas: Bijan Robinson 12-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick, 10:34)

Texas: Dicker 28-yard field goal (4:38)

Texas: Roschon Johnson 3-yard run (Dicker kick, 4:19)

K-State: Deuce Vaughn 19-yard run (Blake Lynch kick, :54)

2nd quarter: Halftime — Texas 31, Kansas State 17

Texas: Robinson 30-yard run (Dicker kick, 14:53)

K-State: Lynch 48-yard field goal (11:43)

Texas: Johnson 7-yard run (Dicker kick, 8:17)

K-State: Vaughn 4-yard run (Lynch kick, 1:20)

3rd quarter: Texas 66, Kansas State 31

Texas: Robinson 75-yard run (Dicker kick, 14:44)

K-State: Malik Knowles 7-yard pass from Will Howard (Lynch kick, 11:24)

Texas: Johnson 1-yard run (Dicker kick, 11:01)

K-State: Knowles 29-yard pass from Howard (Lynch kick, 9:13)

Texas: Jordan Whittington 15-yard run (Dicker kick, 7:01)

Texas: Cade Brewer 15-yard run (Dicker kick, 2:18)

Texas: Malcolm Epps 32-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 1:06)

4th quarter: Final — Texas 69, Kansas State 31

Texas: Dicker 21-yard FG (7:48)

Texas takeaways

Look to the future: Keaontay Ingram missed another game with an injured ankle he suffered in Stillwater on Oct. 31. And there were uncomfirmed reports this week that the former starter is looking at the transfer portal. Maybe Bijan Robinson (9 carries for 172 yards and 3 TDs) and Roschon Johnson (14 carries for 139 yards and 3 TDs) makes that eventual decision easier? They both looked great today. Lightning and Lightning.

Look to the future II: There were other chances to look at what Texas' future may look like. Casey Thompson logged a half-quarter's work at quarterback, Jake Majors made his first career start at center and played well, and backup backup safety Jerrin Thompson had an interception and nearly had two.

O-line shines: Herb Hand is earning his salary. Texas' offensive line coach reconfigured his unit out of necessity this week because of an opt-out, then did it again in the second quarter because of an injury. Regardless, it was a solid afternoon for the front line. Texas finished with 608 yards of offense, put up a season-high in points, kept Ehlinger away from problems, cleared the way for Robinson and Johnson and didn't commit any of those head-scratcher penalties we've seen throughout the season.

Veteran left tackle Samuel Cosmi is skipping the rest of the season in order to prep for the NFL draft. That forced the Horns to move pieces around. Here's what the line looked like to start the game:

Left tackle: Christian Jones, the former starting right tackle

Left guard: Junior Angilau, who's been there all season

Center: Jake Majors, making his first career start

Right guard: Denzel Okafor, who's been there all season

Right tackle: Kerstetter, the former starting center

Then, Kerstetter went down with a serious injury in the second quarter. The game was stopped for several minutes and he was carted off the field. The entire team left the sideline to see him off. 

After Kerstetter left, Okafor slid over from right guard to Kerstetter's right tackle spot, and sophomore backup Rafiti Ghirmai was inserted at right guard.

Ehlinger's day: Ehlinger, who improved to 4-0 vs. Kansas State, was 20 of 27 for 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both in the second half. K-State's Will Howard, who had failed to crack 100 passing yards in his last two games, was 16 of 27 for 174 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) celebrates a touchdown with teammate Jake Majors (65) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

A game of inches: Sometimes, it's the little things. Blake Lynch's 53-yard field goal try that would have made it a 7-3 game dinked off the left upright by the slightest of margins ... in the second quarter, DeMarvion Overshown came thiiiis close to deflecting a third-and-11 pass from Howard to Knowles; the play ended up going for 25 yards and the Wildcats scored two plays later. ... and Cade Brewer's 15-yard touchdown down the left sideline happened because of his close, close tiptoe on the line that caused a Wildcats defender to let up and not go for the hit; Brewer instead slipped right past him for the final 10 yards.

Texas' drives

First quarter: touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown

Second quarter: touchdown, missed field goal, punt

Third quarter: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown

Fourth quarter: field goal, punt

History

The last five Texas-Kansas State results:

Oct. 22, 2016: Kansas State 24, Texas 21 (Manhattan)

Oct. 7, 2017: Texas 40, Kansas State 34 (Austin, 2 OT)

Sept. 29, 2018: No. 18 Texas 19, Kansas State 14 (Manhattan)

Nov. 9, 2019: Texas 27, No. 20 Kansas State 24 (Austin)

Dec. 5, 2010: Texas 69, Kansas State 31

The Horns took the series lead today, now 11-10 all-time vs. the Wildcats.

Next up for Texas

Kansas, next Saturday in Lawrence. This is the rescheduled game from a couple of weeks ago. It's also the last game of the season for the Horns. It's a 2:30 kickoff on ESPNU.